Tomorrow is the last day of school and also marks five years since I walked out of the classroom for the last time. It amazes me to think that we’ve been retired for that long already! Where has the time gone? For the past couple of days I’ve been doing some self-evaluation, asking myself what we’ve accomplished over those five years and whether or not we’ve done the things we wanted to do. Overall, I think the answer is a resounding yes!
We had some pretty specific goals in mind when we retired:
- teach English in Asia for at least one year – done
- travel – never completely done but 9 provinces and 15 states plus Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Saipan and Costa Rica are a pretty good start
- short-term mission work – one summer in ministry has only whetted our appetite for more
Becoming grandparents was something we hoped for and though we can’t take any credit for that being accomplished, grandchildren have been one of the most delightful additions to our life since we retired. Four of them are firmly attached to the family tree and there are five others who also call us Gram and Grandpa. Four of those belong to two families in Japan who ‘adopted’ us while we lived there and with whom we’ve been able to carry on a relationship since our return to Canada.
The past few years have brought other unexpected surprises including becoming seasonal farm labourers! That definitely wasn’t part of the plan but we’ve enjoyed it immensely. For the first time since returning from Japan in early 2009, we weren’t involved in seeding this year’s crop. Louis, our 83-year-old ‘boss’ and very good friend, passed that part of the process on to his stepson and grandson this spring. He still plans to have us help him harvest the crop this fall though.
Surprisingly, we haven’t golfed as much as we thought we would since retiring. In fact, we haven’t golfed as much as we did before we retired! We’ve been too busy fulfilling our other goals. This year eight of the nine greens on our local course are undergoing reconstruction. The course is open but the temporary greens are pretty pathetic so the desire to play hasn’t really been there. It was a good year for us to take up a new hobby; geocaching. Though there are geocachers of all ages, many are retired. In fact, the activity is highlighted in the most recent issue of News and Views, the quarterly magazine published by the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association.
Writing was always something I planned to return to in retirement. I thought I’d be freelancing again, sending my work off to publishers and waiting with baited breath to find out whether it would be accepted. Instead, I find myself blogging! Though I did experience the thrill of publication, in my early writing days I also received enough rejection slips to paper a small room! Blogging is so much more satisfying and I enjoy the opportunity to interact with some of my readers.
Do we ever regret retiring as early as we did? Never! Would we do it again? In a heartbeat! Have I enjoyed every moment of it? To be completely honest, no. Most of the time, I absolutely love being retired but there are moments, especially in the depths of our long Canadian winters, when I long to be doing something more meaningful with my days; moments when I join the writer of Ecclesiastes in lamenting that “Everything is meaningless, utterly meaningless!” Fortunately, those days are few and far between. I don’t think Richard has experienced them at all. Maybe that’s because he spends so much time playing Farmville that he doesn’t have time for such thoughts. His ‘farm’ is something else I didn’t expect to be part of our retirement but it keeps him happy!
As this school year comes to a close, I wonder what the next five years will hold. Our goals remain the same… more travel (we haven’t seen Europe yet) and more short-term mission work. I’m sure there will also be more unexpected surprises along the way.